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Can you help me with my software licensing question?

In the Windows 7 RC EULA, what is meant by "use ... in a live operating environment"?

I don't know if I am "in a live operating environment" or not. Has anyone encountered this question before?

In response to fretje, what would a "live environment" for a student at university be? Then, I probably shouldn't install it, "test" whether or not Office 2007 Home and Student installs ok, and then start blogging with it, posting to SO, and watching streaming anime pretty much daily? Should I not write emails to professors and type my term papers from within Windows 7?

Response: Thank you all for your wonderful responses so far. Many of you are hitting on the exact gem of why I ask this question: I hadn't tried Windows 7 yet, but it seemed like everyone was doing it, so I might as well, too. Hey, a new OS that's good 'til March, free? OK! But then I read the EULA, and it forbids running in a live operating environment. Where were all these success stories, and raves and reviews coming from? Most that I read seemed not to be coming from "solely for testing compatibility for upgrade path" machines. Sure, NVIDIA is testing rolling out their drivers, but this seems like a big gray area. If I make business contacts through email while utilizing the Windows 7 UI to organize my contacts, am I using Windows for business? I don't think anyone really knows.

It seems that there are plenty of scenarios which definitely fall off of the "not live environment end", and into the "definitely live environment" description:

  1. Running a Web server such as IIS or others, especially if including Web applications, as an always-on, public, consumer-serving full-fledged server.

  2. Deploying Windows 7 across the office onto X number of workstations to go about serious business.

Likewise, there are many innocent, harmless scenarios that seem pretty safely covered by the terms of the EULA:

  1. Installing Windows 7. Period. Do the drivers work? Can I install my hardware? What is the install process like? etc. etc.

  2. Developing software on a licensed Windows (not 7), and testing the installers on Windows 7.

  3. Developing software on Windows 7. And not distributing it.

  4. And, um... well, I'm not sure anymore...

What if:

  • I review my own experiences of Windows 7 "cool UI", and I post screenshots to a blog. And/or I happen to generate traffic revenue from the blog.

  • I evaluate how my work flow will be compared to "normal". I install Office, and I talk to my friends, family, and hey, maybe job interviews with VoIP. It shuts down next year by itself anyway. No matter what I do, that's got to be covered under evaluation use, right?

See? See the gray area? See how big it can get? Whew..

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marked as duplicate by voretaq7 Feb 11 '12 at 4:18

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7 Answers 7

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I think they mean

Don’t use it in a production environment.

or more accurate to your question:

a live operating environment == a production environment, or production machines on which you do your daily business

Edit: Do you intend to install it on your personal laptop/desktop? Then I think it's no problem. As long as you don't make any money out of it, I don't think it counts as "production environment".

Off the record: I don't think they will send some lawyers after you when you do use it on a production machine as long as you don't ask for their support when in trouble. (Heck it makes the same machine run twice as fast as with Vista... why wouldn't you install it? It's better for business! ;-)

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2  
Exactly... Windows 7 is still under development. It should work fine, but it might eat all the cookies in your house or change your TV channel to the Home Shopping Network, or leave the cap off the toothpaste. The "live operating environment" is just common sense... don't stick pre-release code on every PC in your business, and then freak out when you can't get support. –  Sean Earp Jun 24 '09 at 23:30

I'd suspect the sole reason that line exists is to give em something to point to if someone rolls out the beta across their company, it hoses everything, they lose millions, and say "Why didn't you warn me, Microsoft?"

Or if you lose a term paper to a bug, you can't sue them for a year's worth of tuition? ;)

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A live operating environment means you are using it to perform your basic daily tasks. Which is kind of funny since we are encouraged to test upgrades from Vista.

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Install Vista on a virtual machine, spare desktop, or spare laptop; then upgrade. –  Scott Jun 24 '09 at 15:07

What's the opposite of a "live operating environment"? A test lab? definitely. A development environment? I think that would be OK as long as you're specifically targeting Windows 7 compatibility.

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A live and/or production environment is one that either:

  1. contains or processes any information that you or anyone else cares about
  2. is at all customer or public facing

Basically this rules it out for anything but use in a testing environment.

There is an implied exception to not using it in a "live environment", in that MS seem to be encouraging people to try it on their home machines.

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A 'Live operating environment' is a production environment that you are using for operational tasks, as opposed to a machine that is used purely for development or testing. A development server is probably not a 'Live operating environment' but a developer's PC usually is as it is being used for daily work.

Microsoft use the example of a PC that you use to read email as an example of a live operating environment. As most developers read email on the PC that they use to develop software on the PC tends to qualify as a 'Live operating environment.' A secondary PC used solely as a test environment is not a 'Live operating environment' per this definition.

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Do you have a link to the Microsoft reference with this example? I'd love to see it. –  mpbloch Jun 24 '09 at 21:28

If you're worried about it, ask a lawyer. The Internet Is Not A Lawyer (TIINAL).

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